Friday, July 30, 2010

"In an innovation critical to improved DNA sequencing, a markedly slower transmission of DNA through nanopores has been achieved by a team led by Sandia National Laboratories researchers.

Solid-state nanopores sculpted from silicon dioxide are generally straight, tiny tunnels more than a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. They are used as sensors to detect and characterize DNA, RNA and proteins. But these materials shoot through such holes so rapidly that sequencing the DNA passing through them, for example, is a problem.

In a paper published this week online (July 23) in Nature Materials (hardcopy slated for August, Vol.9, pp. 667-675), a team led by Sandia National Laboratories researchers reports using self-assembly techniques to fabricate equally tiny but kinked nanopores. Combined with atomic-layer deposition to modify the chemical characteristics of the nanopores, the innovations achieve a fivefold slowdown in the voltage-driven translocation speeds critically needed in DNA sequencing. (Translocation involves DNA entering and passing completely through the pores, which are only slightly wider than the DNA itself.)

“By control of pore size, length, shape and composition,” says lead researcher Jeff Brinker, “we capture the main functional behaviors of protein pores in our solid-state nanopore system.” The importance of a fivefold slowdown in this kind of work, Brinker says, is large.

Also of note is the technique’s capability to separate single- and double-stranded DNA in an array format. “There are promising DNA sequencing technologies that require this,” says Brinker.

The idea of using synthetic solid-state nanopores as single-molecule sensors for detection and characterization of DNA and its sister materials is currently under intensive investigation by researchers around the world. The thrust was inspired by the exquisite selectivity and flux demonstrated by natural biological channels. Researchers hope to emulate these behaviors by creating more robust synthetic materials more readily integrated into practical devices.

Current scientific procedures align the formation of nominally cylindrical or conical pores at right angles to a membrane surface. These are less capable of significantly slowing the passage of DNA than the kinked nanopores.

“We had a pretty simple idea,” Brinker says. “We use the self-assembly approaches we pioneered to make ultrathin membranes with ordered arrays of about 3-nanometer diameter pores. We then further tune the pore size via an atomic-layer deposition process we invented. This allows us to control the pore diameter and surface chemistry at the subnanometer scale. Compared to other solid state nanopores developed to date, our system combines finer control of pore size with the development of a kinked pore pathway. In combination, these allow slowing down the DNA velocity.”

The work is supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences and Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development office.

In addition to Brinker, participating team members include Sandians David Adams, Carter Hodges and former Sandia post-doctoral student Yingbing Jiang, with University of New Mexico (UNM) researchers Zhu Chen, Darren Dunphy, Nanguo Liu, and George Xomeritakas. Other research participants are from the UNM School of Pharmacy, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Beckman Institute and Mechanical Science and Engineering Dept., and Purdue University’s School of Chemical Engineering.

Brinker is a Sandia Fellow, and Distinguished and Regent’s Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering and Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at UNM.

Panel suggests changes in long-term defense planning

Panel suggests changes in long-term defense planning: "A congressionally-mandated panel has recommended broad changes to long-term Defense Department strategies and priorities, including funding a major recapitalization of equipment, revamping the personnel system and expanding the number of people serving in the Navy.

Former Defense Secretary William J. Perry and former National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley gave their final report as co-chairs of the Independent Panel's Assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review to the House Armed Services Committee today. The QDR is a legislatively mandated review of Department of Defense strategy and priorities.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates appointed 12 of the 20-members on the panel in 2009 to assess the 2010 QDR, which was released in February. The other eight panel members were selected by Congress. The panel's report is called "The QDR in Perspective: Meeting America's National Security Needs in the 21st Century."

The panel found that the QDR did not project out far enough to prepare the military for the long term, Perry said. Rather, he said, the QDR focused primarily on the next four to five years around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "If I were secretary of defense today, I would have done the same thing," said Perry, who served from 1993 to 1997.

Perry, who served in President Bill Clinton's administration, and Hadley, who served under President George W. Bush, said the panel showed remarkable non-partisanship and was unanimous in its findings.

The panel identified America's four "enduring national interests that transcend politics" as, defense of the homeland; assured access to sea, air, space and cyberspace; a favorable balance of power in western Asia; and overall humanitarian good.

Among the potential threats to U.S. national interests, according to the panel, are radical Islamic extremism and terrorism, the rise of great powers in the East, tensions in the Middle East and competition for resources.

While "soft power" capabilities of diplomacy and civilian support are important, Hadley said, "the world's first order of concern will continue to be security concerns."

Because of that, the panel recommends a recapitalization of military hardware to replace the wear and tear of nine years of war, Perry said. "This will be expensive," he said. "But deferring recapitalization will require even more expenses in the future."

The panel also recommends a restructuring of forces to build up Navy end-strength and improve the Air Force's long-range strike capabilities. Current Army and Marine Corps ground forces are sufficient for the long term, the panel said.

Today's forces are fully capable of handling any threat that may emerge today, Perry said, but the panel believes a buildup of Navy forces in the western Pacific is necessary to counter emerging threats there, notably Chinese militarization.

U.S. allies in the East "are worried about China and they want us there working with China, and we are," Perry said. He added, "I do not anticipate any military conflict with China, and if it were to happen it would be a huge failure of diplomacy."

To avoid a potential arms race in Asia, Perry said, the U.S. military needs to maintain a consistently strong force in the region.

The panel's assessment also calls for a reconsideration of managing resources. Gates' acquisition reform plans are "a good start," Perry said, but they don't go far enough.

Defense officials should require dual competition in all production programs, and set a limit of five to seven years for the delivery of all defined programs, Perry said. Historically, he said, all successful programs are delivered in four to five years, and programs that drag on beyond 10 years "are guaranteed to cost too much."

Also, Pentagon officials need to clarify roles within the department's acquisitions work force as to who is responsible for the delivery of programs, Hadley said. "It's a muddy picture, with lots of layering and lots of review without clear authority," he said.

In its review, Perry said, the panel was firmly supportive of continuing with an all-volunteer force, but found that changes are needed to reduce personnel costs in maintaining pay and benefits that have become increasingly generous since conscription ended in the 1970s. Specifically, the panel recommends establishing a commission to consider cost savings in pay and benefits and the panel's suggestion to increase length of service for retirement eligibility from 20 years to as long as 40 years.

"I don't need to tell this committee that this is politically charged," Perry said. He added that extending service is important to retain people in whom the military has invested much education and training.

The panel also recommends a re-evaluation of how the military uses National Guard and reserve forces.

"Our panel thinks we really need to re-think our relationship between the active force and the Guard and reserves, and if we need a mobilization capability beyond our current mobilization force," Hadley said. "How much of the Guard and reserve is an operational reserve? How much of it is a strategic reserve? How much of it is for homeland security? All this needs to be re-thought."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Carrier Strike Group 2 Welcomes New Commander

Carrier Strike Group 2 Welcomes New Commander: "Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2 held a change of command ceremony aboard the strike group's flagship, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 29.

Rear Adm. Nora W. Tyson assumed command of Carrier CSG 2.

Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, Vice Adm. Melvin G. "Mel" Williams Jr., presided over the ceremony, which included Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead as the guest speaker.

"I am honored and humbled to have been selected to this position; and I promise you, I will give everything I have to the mission and the Sailors and families of Carrier Strike Group 2," Tyson said.

Tyson, a native of Memphis, Tenn., joined the Navy in 1979 after graduating from Vanderbilt University and completing Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I., that same year.

As a naval flight officer, Tyson's Navy career included three tours in Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 4 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. She also served as the commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). Under her command, Bataan deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and led the Navy's relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The CNO spoke about Tyson's unique qualifications for her new role as the head of CSG 2, referring specifically to her previous assignment as Commander, Task Force 73 and Commander, Logistics Group, Western Pacific in Singapore.

"Singapore is a place I know well and have much affection for," said Roughead. "But that job comes with all the challenges of providing logistics and operational coordination in an area of key strategic interest that happens to encompass 51 million square miles of sea space. It should come as no surprise that I do not assign officers there by chance."

Tyson spoke of how proud she is to take on the latest and most challenging role of her career, leading a strike group consisting of the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, the ships of Destroyer Group 22, and the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 8. As CSG 2's 69th commander, Tyson talked about the critical role of the Carrier Strike Group in the nation's warfighting arsenal.

"As we all know, these are challenging times to wear our uniform and serve our nation," Tyson said. "Demand for our naval forces will only grow, putting increasing pressure on the finite resources available to us."

She went on to say that the Strike Group would "leverage our collective experience and creativity to do whatever is necessary to defend our nation. We will be ready to respond effectively and efficiently to any tasking we might receive. Our leadership, and our fellow countrymen, expect nothing less from us," Tyson added.

CSG 2 is scheduled to deploy in 2011.

General Atomics Wins Approval to Sell First Predator Drones in Middle East - Bloomberg

General Atomics Wins Approval to Sell First Predator Drones in Middle East - Bloomberg: "General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. said it won U.S. approval for an export version of the Predator drone, clearing the way for the first sales of the unmanned aircraft in the Middle East.
“There’s interest from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates,” Frank Pace, president of the aircraft systems group at the closely held company, said today in an interview at the Farnborough Air Show near London.
General Atomics recently received U.S. State Department approval to offer an unarmed Predator model to countries beyond the NATO bloc, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, Pace said. That would allow sales in the Middle East and elsewhere to governments previously ineligible to buy the planes, he said.
U.S. Predators are now used to monitor and strike targets in Iraq, Afghanistan and the border areas of Pakistan. Selling the aircraft to countries in the Middle East may ease regional opposition to the surveillance while raising new issues related to how the buyers fly them, one analyst said."

General Atomics Wins Approval to Sell First Predator Drones in Middle East - Bloomberg

General Atomics Wins Approval to Sell First Predator Drones in Middle East - Bloomberg: "General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. said it won U.S. approval for an export version of the Predator drone, clearing the way for the first sales of the unmanned aircraft in the Middle East.
“There’s interest from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates,” Frank Pace, president of the aircraft systems group at the closely held company, said today in an interview at the Farnborough Air Show near London.
General Atomics recently received U.S. State Department approval to offer an unarmed Predator model to countries beyond the NATO bloc, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, Pace said. That would allow sales in the Middle East and elsewhere to governments previously ineligible to buy the planes, he said.
U.S. Predators are now used to monitor and strike targets in Iraq, Afghanistan and the border areas of Pakistan. Selling the aircraft to countries in the Middle East may ease regional opposition to the surveillance while raising new issues related to how the buyers fly them, one analyst said."

Truck-borne laser weapon to be on way soon

Truck-borne laser weapon to be on way soon: "A powerful laser weapon that can fit on a light truck is set to be the military's answer to the dilemma of overreacting to enemy attack and harming friendly forces in the process.
The laser-beam weapon, being developed by the U.S. Army and Boeing, is seen to be a more focused alternative to artillery or rocket response to enemy action that usually results in innocent civilians or friendly forces being caught up in the onslaught.

Death and injury among third-party individuals near or around a scene of battle is one of the classic scenarios that carries with it acute embarrassment -- or worse -- for both military leaders and politicians. The new laser weapon being developed aims to avoid, if not completely eliminate, that eventuality.

The High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator system will consist of a laser weapon system mounted on an Oshkosh Defense military truck. Traveling at the speed of light the laser beam will hit targets with unprecedented swiftness. And no bullets will rain down on anyone in the process, says Boeing's Marc Selinger in an article on the innovation.

"This transformational, ultra-precision capability will dramatically improve warfighters' ability to counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles," said Michael Rinn, vice president of Boeing Directed Energy Systems."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Closest thing to combat: Allied Strike 10

Closest thing to combat: Allied Strike 10: "GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (AFNS) -- Air Force, Army and NATO joint terminal attack controllers and tactical air control party members joined together to participate in exercise Allied Strike 10 July 23 through Aug. 5 here.

Allied Strike is Europe's premier close air support exercise, which is held annually to conduct robust, realistic close air support training. The training also assists in building partnership capacity among NATO nations and joint services that help refine the latest operational CAS tactics.

"Allied Strike is the only joint/combined multi-national, combined cast, focused event like this in Europe," said Lt. Col. Jon Berry, the 4th Air Operations Support Group director of operations. "This event allows us to bring all these entities together and focus on graduate-level tactics training and procedures."

The NATO countries with participants in the event are Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The first of nine training days and four live-fly days kicked off with Air Force members competing in an obstacle course and then transitioned into M-4 rifle and M-9 pistol training before the opening day came to an end.

The first part of the exercise allows airmen to become familiar with each other and fine tune their combat skills before advancing to the second portion of the training, where Army and NATO members will be introduced to the scenarios.

During the joint/combined multi-national training, JTACs and TACPs from all participating nations will be integrated into an organization modeled after the structure of ongoing contingency operations in Afghanistan. In order to benefit from the shared experiences of all the participants, each member will take part in all aspects of the exercise.

To ensure a smooth operation between countries in forward-operating locations, the events were intended to imitate the tactical air control system, Army air ground system, and digital command and control structure from platoon to battalion operating in Afghanistan. The scenario being replicated trains JTAC and TACP members to conduct CAS missions, while supporting Army units in a counter-insurgency operation.

Building stronger partnerships allow the nations to work as one cohesive unit here or while deployed.

"We share ideas with each other that allow us to approach something from a different angle that we may not have thought of," said Capt. Todd Judice, the 4th ASOG assistant director of operations. "Almost everyone here will be going to Afghanistan at some point, and it's important we replicate real-world scenarios."

Members receiving training and opposing forces will be equipped with different training munitions to replicate actual conditions faced on the ground during urban, dismounted, and convoy operations. These include small-arms marking rounds, as well as simulated rocket-propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices, booby traps, and man portable air defense systems.

"We hope, when they leave, they think it's the most realistic training they ever had and say, 'I'm ready,' when they are deployed," Captain Judice said. "We are not going to fail them. If they don't get it right, we will make them do it until they do."

Although the persistence and toughness of the training may never match the real conflict, it is about realizing the seriousness of the mission.

"I would like all the participants to take away an understanding and appreciation for the criticality of what this mission set is about," Colonel Berry said. "I want to provide them with the very best training venue possible and ensure they leave here with a positive experience."

David Cameron: Pakistan is promoting the ‘export of terror’ - Telegraph

David Cameron: Pakistan is promoting the ‘export of terror’ - Telegraph: "David Cameron has risked inflaming international relations after suggesting Pakistan is promoting the ‘export of terror’ in Afghanistan and around the world.

In words which will be greeted with alarm in Islamabad, the Prime Minister also suggested that Pakistan had links with terrorist groups, and was guilty of double dealing by aligning itself with both the West and the forces it was opposing.

Mr Cameron’s attack will be even more unwelcome given that he was speaking during a visit to India, Pakistan’s neighbour and great military rival.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dynetics Completes Test On Multipurpose NanoMissile System Rocket Engine

Dynetics Completes Test On Multipurpose NanoMissile System Rocket Engine: "Dynetics has successfully completed a test firing series of the Multipurpose NanoMissile System (MNMS) first-stage demonstration booster being developed for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT).
The series included a 60-second test of the 3,000 lbf nitrous oxide/ethane rocket engine. The MNMS booster was developed over 24 months with numerous rocket motor development tests.
Dynetics is working with the USASMDC/ARSTRAT and COLSA Corporation to develop the propulsion system for MNMS, a revolutionary low-cost, low-complexity, multi-configuration missile for use in a variety of tactically relevant suborbital and orbital applications."

Walker's World: U.S. draws line in sea

Walker's World: U.S. draws line in sea: "The unprecedented and solemn warning that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered to Beijing last week over its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea needs to be considered within three separate contexts.
This is because, as Harvard Professor (and former assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration) Joseph Nye maintains, relations between great powers are like a game of chess in three dimensions. There is the military equation, the economic equation and the separate but related dimension of cultural influence. Nye calls it 'soft power,' the ability of a great power not to force other countries to do its will but to get them 'to want what you want.'
So when Clinton infuriated Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the ASEAN regional forum last week by asserting that the resolution of disputes over the South China Sea to be in the United States' 'national interest' all three equations came into play."

Army training to focus more on 'hybrid threats' - News - Stripes

Army training to focus more on 'hybrid threats' - News - Stripes: "After nearly a decade of fighting insurgents, the Army is shifting its training to focus more on “hybrid threats” — in which an enemy uses a combination of conventional and unconventional warfare.
Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, Army units have been training for counterinsurgency operations, according to a Joint Multinational Training Command newsletter. But with the U.S. preparing to withdraw its combat troops from Iraq, Army leaders are directing their commanders to conduct “full-spectrum” field exercises, which would include tanks, artillery and the other conventional equipment that has not been used much in the current wars.
Col. Frank Zachar, commander of the Grafenwöhr-based 172nd Infantry Brigade, described a hybrid threat as an enemy with a greater capability than the insurgents U.S. forces have been battling in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Army Secretary Gen. George Casey said a good example of a hybrid threat is Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia whose aim is to eject Israeli forces from the occupied territories in Israel."

Army assessing lighter, contoured batteries for dismounted Soldiers

Army assessing lighter, contoured batteries for dismounted Soldiers: "The U.S. Army is leveraging its annual C4ISR integrated capabilities event at Fort Dix to assess a contoured, rechargeable battery that will allow the Soldier to be more agile in the battlefield.

"The Soldier Conformal Rechargeable battery has a thin profile designed to match the contour of the Soldier's ballistic protective plate. It powers integrated Soldier systems and sensors for 24-hours without needing to be replaced or recharged," said George Au, an engineer in the Army Power division of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center - or CERDEC.

When used in conjunction with a fuel cell, the battery can support missions up to 72 hours before needing to be recharged, Au said.

The SCR battery is part of the Dismounted Soldier Power effort, a joint Army Technology Objective, or ATO, shared by three organizations within the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command: CERDEC, the Army Research Laboratory and the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC.

The ATO seeks to provide energy independence on the battlefield while reducing the weight of the Soldier's load, increasing his mobility and extending mission times.

The importance of the SCR battery lies in its design, which allows for easier execution of typical ground combat maneuvers, said Frank Ashe, an engineer with NSRDEC.

"It allows faster entry and egress through small openings, and it improves Soldier balance since center of mass has been brought closer to the torso. It also frees up more real estate on the load-bearing vest for other items," Ashe said.

In addition to assessing safety, durability, reliability and software compatibility, RDECOM is looking to integrate the SCR battery with NSRDEC Soldier Domain Technologies during Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance On-the-Move Event 2010, or C4ISR OTM E10.

This is the third year that SCR batteries have been brought to C4ISR OTM for assessment, and the final year prior to its scheduled transition to Product Manager Soldier.

"C4ISR OTM gives our technologies, power included, a venue to properly test and demonstrate the technology readiness of the product in a relevant field environment," Ashe said.

C4ISR OTM is a research and development program within CERDEC that evaluates the technical applications and maturity for emerging networking, sensors and C4ISR-enabling platforms on a year-round basis. It provides science, technology and engineering support to mitigate risk for Army Technology Objectives and supports milestone decisions for programs of record.

C4ISR OTM Event 2010 is aligned with the Army Network Modernization strategy and is exploring leap-ahead capabilities that can augment and enhance the foundation of network modernization while identifying technology acceleration opportunities into the current force.

Power source assessments like the SCR fall in line with the overarching objectives of C4ISR OTM E10, said Jason Sypniewski, chief of the C4ISR OTM Integrated Event, Design and Analysis branch.

"One of our objectives is to support Department of Army ATO guidance in power and energy - especially as it pertains to the system-of-systems construct. A system-of-systems architecture consists of various C4ISR systems that need to interact reliably and consistently, so it's important to have a robust power source. Increased 'up time' in a system-of-systems equates to sustained continuity of operations," Sypniewski said.

"Weight and agility are key variables that need to be assessed within a system-of-systems because the architecture spans all echelons, from the Joint Task Force down to the tactical edge. Improvements in these areas are paramount to enabling the Soldier to effectively and efficiently execute the mission," Sypniewski said.

The SRC battery assessments at C4ISR OTM will conclude at the end of July, and a Limited User Test is scheduled for November. C4ISR OTM E10 is scheduled to continue execution through Sept. 2, at Fort Dix, N.J.

To learn more about C4ISR OTM, visit or contact CERDEC Public Affairs, (732) 427-1594. Be sure to follow CERDEC on Twitter and Facebook for more information concerning events taking place throughout C4ISR OTM E10. "

Maritime Laser Demonstration System Proves Key Capabilities For Shipboard Operations

Maritime Laser Demonstration System Proves Key Capabilities For Shipboard Operations: "Northrop Grumman recently completed a series of tests of the Maritime Laser Demonstration (MLD) system, moving high-energy lasers a step closer to deployment aboard U.S. Navy ships.
Recent shore-based tests at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Port Hueneme proved the MLD system's ability to track small boats at long ranges and in a marine environment.
'Tracking tests were part of a larger program designed to demonstrate laser weapon system capability for fleet defense,' according to Steve Hixson, vice president of Space and Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
'Such lasers would complement other defensive systems to address certain threats more effectively and at lower cost than traditional weapons.'"

Raytheon-Boeing Team On Target During First Government-Funded Test Of JAGM

Raytheon-Boeing Team On Target During First Government-Funded Test Of JAGM: "Raytheon and Boeing have completed the first of three government-sponsored firings of the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile. During the successful test, the JAGM used its laser guidance system to hit an 8-by-8-foot target board from a distance of 16 kilometers (10 miles).
The Raytheon-Boeing JAGM features a tri-mode seeker with laser; an uncooled imaging infrared sensor; and millimeter wave guidance. The weapon leverages proven components from other Raytheon and Boeing programs, including the Raytheon GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II and the Boeing Brimstone."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Boeing Signs MOU With Aeronautics For DA42 Dominator UAS

Boeing Signs MOU With Aeronautics For DA42 Dominator UAS: "Boeing has announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Aeronautics Ltd. to market the DA42 Dominator unmanned aircraft system.
'The Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) portion of the unmanned systems market is rapidly expanding as the world's armed forces acquire a variety of vehicles for use in current conflicts and future missions,' said Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft"

China taking 'more aggressive' stance at sea: US admiral

China taking 'more aggressive' stance at sea: US admiral: "US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen said on Friday that China had adopted an increasingly aggressive stance on the high seas, with Beijing pushing territorial claims.
Mullen also repeated criticism of Beijing for breaking off military contacts with the United States earlier this year, and for a lack of 'transparency' in its military build-up."

China taking 'more aggressive' stance at sea: US admiral

China taking 'more aggressive' stance at sea: US admiral: "US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen said on Friday that China had adopted an increasingly aggressive stance on the high seas, with Beijing pushing territorial claims.
Mullen also repeated criticism of Beijing for breaking off military contacts with the United States earlier this year, and for a lack of 'transparency' in its military build-up."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pentagon Faces Political and Economic Pressures to Cut Budget -

Pentagon Faces Political and Economic Pressures to Cut Budget - "Lawmakers, administration officials and analysts said the combination of big budget deficits, the winding down of the war in Iraq and President Obama’s pledge to begin pulling troops from Afghanistan next year were leading Congress to contemplate reductions in Pentagon financing requests.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has sought to contain the budget-cutting demands by showing Congress and the White House that he can squeeze more efficiency from the Pentagon’s bureaucracy and weapons programs and use the savings to maintain fighting forces.
But the increased pressure is already showing up in efforts by Democrats in Congress to move more quickly than senior Pentagon officials had expected in trimming the administration’s budget request for next year.
And in the longer term, with concern mounting about the government’s $13 trillion debt, a bipartisan deficit-reduction commission is warning that cuts in military spending could be needed to help the nation dig out of its financial hole."

Pentagon advisory board recommends axing Joint Forces Command -

Pentagon advisory board recommends axing Joint Forces Command - "A Pentagon advisory board is recommending that the Defense Department eliminate the Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command as part of a plan to significantly cut defense spending.

The Defense Business Board, the Pentagon's independent board of advisers, made the preliminary recommendation yesterday in a presentation at the Pentagon, according to a transcript.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked the board to find ways to reduce the department's overhead costs, which are expected to be about $200 billion this year — greater than the gross domestic product of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, according to the board."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

U.S. anti-drone weapon unveiled

U.S. anti-drone weapon unveiled: "U.S. defense giant Raytheon Missile Systems has unveiled a laser weapon capable of shooting unmanned aerial vehicles from a range of just less than 2 miles.
Mounted on a U.S. warship's missile defense system, the laser shot down four drones in secret tests off California in May, Raytheon touted in a statement this week.
The test entailed tracking the drones with sensors used as part of a Raytheon-built ship defense system and destroying the aircraft using a high-powered, fiber-optic laser.
The laser's 50-kilowatt beam can shoot down a drone traveling as fast as 311 miles per hour.
Experts explain that Raytheon developed the system after buying six off-the-shelf commercial lasers from the car industry before combining them to produce a single, powerful beam guided by Phalanx radars.
Unlike other military tests that have been conducted on aircraft, it uses a solid-state laser rather than a chemical-generated beam."

Petraeus Sharpens Afghan Strategy -

Petraeus Sharpens Afghan Strategy - "Gen. Petraeus, who took over as allied commander in Afghanistan this month and is conducting a review of the war, intends to draw on many of the same tactics he implemented to turn around the war in Iraq—and which his predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, introduced in Afghanistan.
But the officials said Gen. McChrystal put too much attention on hunting down Taliban leaders, at the expense of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, which focuses on protecting civilians and bolstering popular support for the government. Supporters of Gen. McChrystal dispute that assessment, dismissing any notion there were flaws in how he fought the war.
Gen. Petraeus's determination to intensify a strategy focused on driving a wedge between the Taliban and the Afghan people could be tricky to pull off, given the mounting political pressure in the U.S. to show results in the nearly nine-year war, and to begin drawing down troops next year."

U.S., Vietnam Are Ready to Take Relationship to `New Level,' Clinton Says - Bloomberg

U.S., Vietnam Are Ready to Take Relationship to `New Level,' Clinton Says - Bloomberg: "The U.S. is ready to take relations with Vietnam to a “new level” 15 years after establishing diplomatic ties with its former adversary, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Vietnam is on the verge of becoming a “great nation” and the U.S. is keen to promote further economic progress, she told reporters in Hanoi today after meeting Vietnam’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem.
“We see this relationship as important not only on its own merits,” but also in the context of the larger Southeast Asia region, Clinton said. The two countries fought a war ending in 1975 that killed 58,000 U.S. soldiers and more than 3 million Vietnamese.
Closer ties between the U.S. and Vietnam come as American military officials say China’s military buildup raises security concerns for the region. China claims the entire South China Sea as its own, putting it at odds with Vietnam and other countries that also declare sovereignty over islands in a waterway that may contain oil and gas reserves."

Politics | War general says US exit from Iraq on track | Seattle Times Newspaper

Politics | War general says US exit from Iraq on track | Seattle Times Newspaper: "Baghdad's political troubles won't keep American troops from leaving the country as planned at the end of 2011, the military's top commander in Iraq said Wednesday.
Gen. Raymond Odierno told reporters that the Iraqi security forces are doing much of the work already and that security has improved significantly since 2006 when an 'almost civil war' gripped the nation.
Odierno says U.S. forces haven't needed to conduct airstrikes in at least six months and that Americans are mostly operating as advisers to Iraqi forces. Al-Qaida fighters in Iraq have been cut off from their leadership in Pakistan, he said.
'There has been steady, deliberate progress across all lines,' Odierno said. 'There's clearly more to do, but a new baseline has been established.'"

Boeing To Demonstrate NATO AWACS Control Of Unmanned Airborne System

Boeing To Demonstrate NATO AWACS Control Of Unmanned Airborne System: "The Boeing Company will demonstrate control of the ScanEagle unmanned airborne system (UAS) by a NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft during Empire Challenge 2010.
This annual demonstration of joint and coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance interoperability is sponsored by the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. Empire Challenge, hosted by the U.S. Joint Forces Command, will take place from July 26 to Aug. 13 at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Boeing has tested unmanned vehicles and AWACS in previous Empire Challenge demonstrations, but this will be the first time the company demonstrates full control of an unmanned aircraft by an airborne command and control (C2) platform during an operational scenario. ScanEagle is built by Insitu Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing.
The scenario involves an antipiracy operation in which the NATO AWACS aircraft detects suspicious activity and directs ScanEagle to fly to a certain location and keep track of a suspect vessel - a truck representing a pirate ship - while sending real-time video back to the AWACS."

US navy chief eyes China's 'opaque' sea power

US navy chief eyes China's 'opaque' sea power: "The head of the US Navy warned Wednesday of China's 'opaque' intentions behind its growing naval might as it seeks to use sea power to bolster its strength on the world stage.
'The navy is growing to assure the flow of resources' to China's booming economy and is 'developing very, very good capabilities,' Admiral Gary Roughead, US chief of naval operations, told reporters in Paris.
'They are moving forward with a navy that is being seen more... in areas further from their homeland,' he said."

Washington Memo - Conflict Resurfaces With Lessons on Nation-Building -

Washington Memo - Conflict Resurfaces With Lessons on Nation-Building - "Before Afghanistan and Iraq, there was Kosovo, the preoccupation of Washington a decade ago but largely off the radar screen in recent times. Eleven years after NATO drove out Serbian forces and two years after Kosovo declared independence, the young nation is struggling to consolidate its position on the map and looking for American help.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci came to town for perhaps Kosovo’s most important week since assuming statehood. On Wednesday, he met with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and accepted an international loan package. But most important, he wanted to be in Washington on Thursday when the International Court of Justice ruled on whether the 2008 declaration of independence was valid, a decision fraught with divisive potential in Europe.
Kosovo, of course, is no Iraq or Afghanistan for all sorts of reasons. But the continuing tension in the Balkans serves as a reminder of just how challenging and long-lasting the American enterprise of nation-building really is. Even after the fighting is long over — and there are still about 1,480 American troops in Kosovo as part of a 9,900-member international force — the project is not really done. "

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Doubts about U.S. tactics shadow war in Afghanistan -

Doubts about U.S. tactics shadow war in Afghanistan - "The Afghanistan war is at a critical juncture. The surge of 30,000 troops ordered by President Obama will be complete soon. A new commander has arrived. A full offensive against the birthplace of the Taliban —Kandahar— has been delayed.

BIDEN: Withdrawal may start small, VP says
AFGHAN SECURITY: Karzai reaffirms 2014 deadline
MILITARY: Two killed in Afghanistan
CLOSER LOOK: U.S. casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond

Taliban attacks are rising as are U.S. operations against insurgent strongholds. Coalition deaths are at a high. And Afghans such as Safiullah say they are losing faith in America's ability to deliver on its promises.

Progress "is not moving at the pace that anyone would like," says Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a public policy research institute.

Into this situation steps Gen. David Petraeus, the counterinsurgency expert who spearheaded the dramatic drop in militancy in Iraq and the stabilizing of its government. Tuesday, Petraeus took a break from his tour of the Afghan theater to greet Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who arrived in Kabul for an international conference on Afghanistan's future.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ATK Delivers First Production AARGM To US Navy

ATK Delivers First Production AARGM To US Navy: "Alliant Techsystems has announced that the United States Navy has accepted the initial deliveries of AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) production missiles.

AARGM's precision capabilities allow for the destruction of modern enemy air defense systems, time-critical targets, and other mobile targets. AARGM's unique combat capability significantly increases the probability of successful engagements, minimizes the chance of collateral damage and eliminates the need to fly continuous suppression sorties throughout the duration of a conflict.

AARGM - an upgrade and complement to the U.S. Navy AGM-88 HARM system - is a U.S. and Italian international cooperative program with the U.S. Navy as the executive agent."

Navy to review plans for Northrop change | |

Navy to review plans for Northrop change | | "Nearly a week after Northrop Grumman Corp. announced its intention to sell or spin off its shipbuilding business, the Navy said Monday that it will weigh in on any prospective new owner and that a foreign company would pose a problem.
The announcement came on the same day Wes Bush, Northrop's CEO, said private-equity firms might be interested in the company's shipbuilding unit, Bloomberg News reported.
'Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding is the sole manufacturer and refueler of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and one of two manufacturers of Virginia-class submarines whose work is well-integrated into complex and classified systems in these ships,' said Cmdr. Victor Chen, a Pentagon-based Navy spokesman.
'The Navy will carefully review any plans for a change of ownership to ensure that Newport News Shipbuilding maintains design, maintenance and construction capability for nuclear-powered warships, while protecting national security interests. Foreign ownership would present significant challenges in this regard.'
British-owned BAE Systems PLC is among the companies mentioned by some analysts as a possible interested party"

U.S.-South Korean defense leaders announce Exercise Invincible Spirit

U.S.-South Korean defense leaders announce Exercise Invincible Spirit: "Officials from the U.S. and South Korea announced July 20 a series of military exercises designed to send a strong, clear message to North Korea to stop its provocative and warlike acts.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Tae-young released a joint statement on the exercises following meetings here.

The first in a series is a combined maritime and air readiness exercise named Invincible Spirit. About 8,000 U.S. and South Korean servicemembers will participate. The exercise is in response to the unprovoked attack on and sinking of the South Korean frigate, Cheonan, off the west coast of the peninsula. Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in the North Korean torpedo attack on the vessel.

"This is the first in a series of (South Korean and) U.S. combined naval exercises that will occur in both the East and West Seas," the two defense ministers said in their joint statement.

To Americans, the East Sea is the Yellow Sea and the West Sea is the Sea of Japan.

"These defensive, combined exercises are designed to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop, and that we are committed to together enhancing our combined defensive capabilities," the statement continued.

Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said the exercise will begin at the conclusion of the Two-plus-Two meetings between the U.S. and South Korean ministers of defense and foreign affairs.

The exercise includes the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group and South Korean Navy ships. Aircraft will come from the Seventh Air Force, the George Washington's Air Wing, the South Korean air force and South Korean anti-submarine aircraft.

The exercise will include F-22 Raptor aircraft training for the first time in the theater, Admiral Willard said.

"In all, over a hundred aircraft will fly in the event," Admiral Willard said. "The exercise will include a variety of training opportunities: flight operations from the carrier, there will be an air defense exercise, strike exercises and opportunities for passing exercises."

"Anti-submarine warfare is also included in the exercise with both South Korean and U.S. Navy ships and P-3 aircraft participating," he said.

At the end of the exercise, there will be a counter special forces exercise. "These occur with some frequency in both the East and West Seas, conducted by the (South Korean) and U.S. Navy," Admiral Willard said.

The exercise is part of a continuum of exercises that the U.S. and the South Korea hold.

The end of Invincible Spirit will coincide with the start of exercise Freedom's Guardian, Admiral Willard said.

The admiral said the exercises can be adjusted if North Korea agrees to stop future provocations.

Future exercises may be in the West Sea, Admiral Willard said.

The West Sea is an international waterway, and the U.S. is perfectly within its rights to exercise in that body of water.

Admiral Willard said he is not concerned about China's feeling about U.S. and South Korean naval exercises in that area.

"If I have a concern vis-a-vis China, it's that China exert itself to influence Pyongyang to see that incidents like Cheonan don't occur in the future," he said.

Deterring North Korea is problematic, said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

"This is what makes North Korea so challenging, and at times, so confounding," Mr. Morrell said. "How do you gain leverage with a regime that doesn't care how it is viewed by the rest of world, and doesn't care how it treats its own people? At the same time, none of us wants to fight another war on the peninsula, and clearly none of us -- certainly the Chinese -- are interested in instability on the peninsula. So, this all combines to make this a challenge."

NASA, Army collaboration takes gamers to moon

NASA, Army collaboration takes gamers to moon: "Eight years after the Army Game Studio launched its initial first-person shooter video game, "America's Army Recon," NASA joined in with the release of its prototype game, "Moonbase Alpha," July 6.

The new NASA game was developed with the assistance of the Army Game Studio, so "Moonbase Alpha" and "America's Army" share some DNA. But the two games have different goals.

While the "America's Army" game has morphed into more than 38 versions, each offering true-to-life Soldier experiences -- from training through combat missions -- "Moonbase Alpha" allows gamers to step into the role of an astronaut at a futuristic 3-D lunar settlement.

The mission scenario of "Moonbase Alpha" requires virtual astronauts to restore critical systems and oxygen flow after a meteor strike cripples a solar array and oxygen-generating equipment on the moon.

Resources available to players during the game include an interactive command center, a lunar rover, mobile robotic repair units and fully-stocked equipment. "Moonbase Alpha" is free, rated "E" for play by everyone, and can be played by a single player or with multiple players online.

"Moonbase Alpha" is the first game in NASA's Learning Technologies project. Like the Army, the space agency plans to continually develop the game. The intent is to grow the prototype into a massive multi-player game called "Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond."

Daniel Laughlin, NASA Learning Technologies project manager, said the agency is looking into how ideas from players of the current game could affect its future development. He said he's already receiving ideas from players, who sometimes play in untimed, "sandbox" mode, creating race tracks for the moon rovers. A particular thrill to players has been the virtual experience of operating on the moon with one-sixth Earth's gravity.

Through interactive technologies such as virtual worlds, games and software applications, NASA wants to encourage American youth and teachers to heed the White House's call for education in the STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Laughlin said. The goal seeks to inspire, engage and educate students about NASA technologies, job opportunities and the future of U.S. and international space exploration.

There are no bad guys to shoot in "Moonbase Alpha," as there are in "America's Army." NASA's game, where players are part of a group of weaponless astronauts tasked with solving a life-support problem, is more of an exercise in planning and time-management. But that hasn't made the game unpopular.

Proof that video games don't necessarily have to be first-person shooters to succeed with a target audience of elementary and high school students, "Moonbase Alpha" has already "generated more than 100,000 downloads in less than two weeks," said Mike Barnett, the game's chief engineer with Army Game Studio, which put the game together based on models that NASA supplied.

And those who download the game are actually playing it -- for a considerable amount of time.

"Average playtime was one hour and five minutes and that's huge, especially for a prototype game," said Frank Blackwell, AGS director. "Playing the game that long is a big deal because a standard mission is 25 minutes, which means gamers are playing for an average of two missions or they're really exploring, moving around, getting accustomed to the different controls and devices. That's exciting when you've got people from all over the world collaborating and interfacing together in technology."

Phalanx Sensors Used In Laser Shoot Down Of Airborne Targets

Phalanx Sensors Used In Laser Shoot Down Of Airborne Targets: "Raytheon and a U.S. Navy team used a combined-beam fiber laser to shoot down four unmanned aerial vehicles in flight during an over-the-water engagement.
The UAV targets were engaged and destroyed using the Navy's Laser Weapon System guided by Raytheon's Phalanx Close-in Weapon System sensor suite. LaWS is made up of six industrial-use lasers that simultaneously focus on the target."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Advanced Weapon System Helps ONR Respond to Navy Needs

Advanced Weapon System Helps ONR Respond to Navy Needs: "The Low-Cost Imaging Terminal Seeker (LCITS), an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored technology, could soon give the U.S. Navy and coalition military ships an upper hand in swiftly defeating multi-axis attacks by small swarming boats.

Managed by ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department as a Future Naval Capability (FNC), LCITS equips the unguided Hydra-70 rocket with a low-cost imaging infrared guidance solution to more accurately strike an intended target.

Steve Smolinski, Office of Transition FNC director, explained the importance of the FNC program to fulfilling naval missions such as LCITS.

'The FNC program represents the requirements-driven, delivery-oriented portion of the Navy's science and technology investment,' Smolinski said. 'FNC enabling capabilities draw upon technologies that can be developed, matured and delivered to acquisition programs within a three- to five-year period.'

The seeker is composed of three main subsystems: a targeting integration system aboard the helicopter, a digital smart launcher and the guided imaging rocket. The helicopter uses its targeting system to lock onto and track the target's position and velocity, and transfers the information to the rocket launcher prior to weapon release. Once locked onto the target, the weapon follows the LCITS commands to the target.

From a pilot's perspective, the entire process can be handled in a matter of seconds, increasing the number of targets that can be engaged in a short amount of time. LCITS can also engage targets in a 120-degree cone centered off the nose of the helicopter at ranges up to 7 kilometers."

Soldiers want more combat-relevant PT test - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times

Soldiers want more combat-relevant PT test - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times: "The Army plans to overhaul the 30-year-old Army Physical Fitness Test and soldiers couldn’t agree more: “Army Strong” should be even stronger.

"Hertling wrote a monograph at the School of Advanced Military Studies in 1987 that advocated an occupational PT test resembling the Russian military’s to better match battlefield skills.

According to Andrey Patenko, a former Soviet drill sergeant, the test when he served from 1986 to 1988 was a tough, multipart affair taken every three months.

The Russian test included an obstacle course, a six-mile run in 20 pounds of combat gear, chin-ups while carrying ammunition, a rope climb without using legs, a grenade throw and a hand-to-hand combat drill.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Basic training gets an overhaul - Jen DiMascio -

Basic training gets an overhaul - Jen DiMascio - "Starting this month, basic training is no longer what it used to be.
No more screaming drill sergeants. Fewer boring PowerPoint presentations and no more mock fighting with bayonets.
The first recruits are going through a drastically revamped training program — designed in response to the changes in the “millennial” generation.
Over time, new grunts arriving at the Army’s basic training locations have been softer in body, mind and spirit but far more technologically savvy than previous generations and with a greater sense of purpose. But the Army was “using old methodologies to train on the battlefield,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who is in charge of the overhaul. “So we had to adjust what we’re training and how we’re training it.”"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

US Army Awards LockMart Contract To Perform HULC User Testing

US Army Awards LockMart Contract To Perform HULC User Testing: "Lockheed Martin has received a $1.1 million contract from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center for test and evaluation of its next-generation HULC advanced robotic exoskeleton, designed to augment Soldiers' strength and endurance, as well as reduce load carriage injuries.
Under this contract, the U.S. Army will test Lockheed Martin's advanced ruggedized HULC design. The upgraded HULC system includes optimized control software, extended battery life and human factors improvements for quicker and easier sizing to each user. Lockheed Martin is also exploring exoskeleton designs to support industrial and medical applications.
'The tests performed on Lockheed Martin's HULC system will help us assess the current state of the technology,' said David Audet, U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, which awarded the contract. 'Exoskeletons have the potential to reduce stress on the body from heavy loads.'"

First High-Altitude Coyote Supersonic Target Vehicle Launched

First High-Altitude Coyote Supersonic Target Vehicle Launched: "Orbital Sciences Corporation has announced that it successfully launched the 'High Diver' Coyote supersonic target vehicle from San Nicolas Island, California, validating its suitability for future high-altitude naval threat simulations and anti-missile response system tests.
The Coyote High Diver (or Coyote HD) vehicle was rail-launched from San Nicolas Island at about 9:00 a.m. PDT on 8 July 2010. During the exercise, the ramjet-powered Coyote HD ascended to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet, where it reached a cruising speed of approximately Mach 3.3.
At the end of its 110 mile long flight, the vehicle executed a planned 40-degree unpowered dive to its objective point near the ocean's surface."

Air Force's 'Technology Horizons' makes science fiction a reality

Air Force's 'Technology Horizons' makes science fiction a reality: "With innovations seemingly plucked from the latest futuristic Hollywood movie script, Technology Horizons outlines the Air Force's major science and technology objectives through the next decade, officials in Wshington said July 14.

Highly adaptable, autonomous systems that can make intelligent decisions about their battle space capabilities and human-machine brainwave coupling interfaces are but two significant technologies contained in the document, said Dr. Werner J.A. Dahm, the Air Force chief scientist.

"These are hands down, slam dunk, among the biggest findings in Technology Horizons; this is one of those 'a-ha' moments for the Air Force," Dr. Dahm said. "If you come back 20 years from now, you'll see an Air Force that looks substantially different than what you see today, and it will look that different, in part, because of Technology Horizons."

Air Force Research Laboratory engineers will use the document to help plan technologies of the future, and have already begun implementing some of the key findings in Technology Horizons.

"We will be making greater use of autonomous systems, reasoning and processes in almost everything the Air Force does," Dr. Dahm said. "This is not only in terms of increasing and enhancing remote-piloted aircraft, but in developing new ways of letting systems learn about their situations to decide how they can adapt to best meet the operator's intent."

He described how future autonomous aircraft would be able to sense battle damage and make intelligent decisions about their remaining capabilities.

"Such adaptable autonomous systems will be able to automatically re-plan their mission to maximize their effectiveness," Dr. Dahm explained. "In decision-making systems and processes, these systems can give us a tremendous operational edge over potential adversaries who are limited to human decision and control."

He explained that in today's combined air operations centers, for example, there are several hundred people involved in assembling daily air tasking orders. Adaptable autonomous decision-making systems can handle many of these steps, reducing the number of people who must be deployed.

Such advanced levels of autonomy, Dr. Dahm added, complement another key focus of Technology Horizons: human performance augmentation.

"Natural human capacities are becoming increasingly mismatched to the data volumes, processing capabilities and decision speeds that technologies either offer or demand," Dr. Dahm said.

He said autonomous systems and advanced human-machine interfaces are among ways the service can meet this rapidly growing challenge.

"To identify threats in full-motion video, we can outfit a helmet with literally hundreds of brainwave sensors and begin to localize and identify reactions you have, even below the level at which you could put them into words," Dr. Dahm said.

Dr. Dahm explained the brain is presented with cues as the video images plays.

"Some of those cues will be strong enough for you to say, 'stop, I saw something there,' but many other cues may be so low that they evoke only an intuitive response without rising to the level of conscious reaction," he said.

Brainwave sensors can potentially detect these, in effect providing Airmen with enhanced intuitive capabilities reminiscent of Spiderman.

These human performance technologies can create a dynamic in which the machine and the analyst are almost inseparable.

"We are beginning to be able to couple humans and machines in ways that were unthinkable 10 years ago," Dr. Dahm said.

He admits that the concept of an Airman literally becoming part of the computing environment is "bizarre, but technologically credible."

As missions become increasingly faster and more complex, Air Force researchers will need to consider and implement these advancing technologies where they make sense, he said.

Dr. Dahm cited another example in which the same skull caps can measure brainwaves and determine if, by nature, Airmen are trainable to be effective in certain roles or careers.

"Many of these technologies are focused on gaining capability increases even with a smaller force size, Dr. Dahm said. "We will have a much stronger focus on advancing and applying technologies that can make our Airmen even more effective than they are today."

As the Air Force's "in-house" research arm, AFRL researchers will be at the forefront of translating the Technology Horizons' vision into reality.

Some of the research will be contracted out to companies ranging from big aerospace to small innovative firms, Dr. Dahm said.

Air Force officials also will partner with the other services, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, NASA, other agencies and even international partners aligned with U.S. Air Force interests, he added.

In this revolutionary age of social media and online gaming, Dr. Dahm contends the Airmen of today are primed for these very technologies designed to maintain the service's superiority in 2020, 2030 and beyond.

"If this had come out of the blue 50 years ago, even if the technology were ready, the workforce -- the Airmen -- would not have been ready," Dr. Dahm said. "Today, both the technology and our Airmen are ready. Technology Horizons is going to enable changes that literally reshape the Air Force.""

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle Demonstrator Makes 1st Flight

Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle Demonstrator Makes 1st Flight: "The Boeing Company Silent Eagle flight demonstrator aircraft F-15E1 completed a successful first flight on July 8 from Lambert St. Louis International Airport.
During the 80-minute flight, F-15E1 opened and closed its left-side Conformal Weapons Bay, which contained an AIM-120 Instrumented Test Vehicle (ITV) missile. The ITV was not launched.
'The Silent Eagle demonstration flight validated our initial engineering design approach,' said Boeing F-15 Development Programs Director Brad Jones.
'Our intent was to verify all systems are operational in a flight environment. This flawless flight allows us to move into the next phase. In the next couple of weeks, we will ferry F-15E1 to the test range and launch an AIM-120.'"

A Revolutionary Breakthrough In Terahertz Remote Sensing

A Revolutionary Breakthrough In Terahertz Remote Sensing: "A major breakthrough in remote wave sensing by a team of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers opens the way for detecting hidden explosives, chemical, biological agents and illegal drugs from a distance of 20 meters.
The new, all-optical system, using terahertz (THz) wave technology, has great potential for homeland security and military uses because it can 'see through' clothing and packaging materials and can identify immediately the unique THz 'fingerprints' of any hidden materials."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Unmanned Phantom Eye Demonstrator Unveiled

Unmanned Phantom Eye Demonstrator Unveiled: "The Boeing Company has unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system, a demonstrator that will stay aloft at 65,000 feet for up to four days.
'Phantom Eye is the first of its kind and could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications,' Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, said at the unveiling ceremony in St. Louis.
'It is a perfect example of turning an idea into a reality. It defines our rapid prototyping efforts and will demonstrate the art-of-the-possible when it comes to persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The capabilities inherent in Phantom Eye's design will offer game-changing opportunities for our military, civil and commercial customers.'
Later this summer, Phantom Eye will be shipped to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to begin a series of ground and taxi tests in preparation for its first flight in early 2011. That debut flight is expected to last between four and eight hours."

Antonov in the race for U.S. tanker planes

Antonov in the race for U.S. tanker planes: "Antonov is in a $29.5 billion race to become a supplier of refueling tanker aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, which would make military and political history if implemented.
Boeing and European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. are already in the contest for the giant contract. In 2008, EADS and Northrop Grumman won the contract to build the tankers but, after Boeing protested, the military began the bidding process all over again.

News of Antonov's potential participation in the venture came after U.S. Aerospace, Inc., a U.S. aerospace and defense contractor, announced that it has submitted a bid to the Air Force to supply 179 aerial refueling tankers at $150 million per plane, with a total bid package of $29.55 billion. That amount includes research and development costs.

The aircraft components will be built by Antonov in Ukraine with final assembly of the planes by U.S. Aerospace, Inc. in the United States, the company said."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Swap Idea Emerged Early in Case of Russia Agents -

Swap Idea Emerged Early in Case of Russia Agents - "On a Friday afternoon in mid-June, President Obama sat down with advisers in the Oval Office and learned that the F.B.I. planned to round up the largest ring of Russian sleeper agents since the cold war. After discussion about what the agents had done, the conversation turned to the fallout: what to do after the arrests?
In that moment was born a back-to-the-future plan that would play out four weeks later, a prisoner exchange with surreal and even cinematic overtones as Russian and American airplanes met on a sunny tarmac in the heart of Europe on Friday to trade agents and spies much as had been done during a more hostile era."

Intrigue and Ambiguity in Cases of 4 Russians Sent to West in Spy Swap -

Intrigue and Ambiguity in Cases of 4 Russians Sent to West in Spy Swap - "When Aleksandr Zaporozhsky, one of four Russians delivered to the West in this week’s spy swap, landed at Dulles International Airport on Friday to join his family in the United States, it was only the latest unexpected twist in a classic story of espionage and deception.

For several years in the 1990s, Mr. Zaporozhsky, a colonel in Russian intelligence who became deputy chief of the American Department, was secretly working for the C.I.A., one of the highest-ranking American moles in history, Russian prosecutors say.

After surprising his colleagues by retiring suddenly in 1997, he moved with his wife and three children to the United States and went into business. But in 2001, confident that his C.I.A. link was unsuspected, Mr. Zaporozhsky was lured back to Moscow by his former colleagues for what they promised would be a festive K.G.B. anniversary party. He was arrested at the airport, convicted of espionage and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

On Friday, Mr. Zaporozhsky was flown to Vienna and then to the Washington area for the 10-for-4 spy exchange that promises to bring to a swift conclusion the saga of the Russian spy ring exposed by the F.B.I. early last week.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

US program to detect cyberattacks on companies, agencies

US program to detect cyberattacks on companies, agencies: "The United States is launching a program to detect cyberattacks on private US companies and government agencies running critical infrastructure such as the electricity grid and nuclear power plants, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The newspaper, citing 'people familiar with the program,' known as 'Perfect Citizen,' said the surveillance would be carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA), the super secret US electronic monitoring agency.
It would rely on sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyberattack, the Journal said."

Airbus submits bid for US military mega-project

Airbus submits bid for US military mega-project: "European aerospace giant Airbus on Thursday submitted its bid for a 40-billion-dollar US military contract also eyed by bitter rival Boeing.
Hoping to snare the contract 'of the century,' executives from Airbus's parent firm EADS said their 8,819-page bidding document was submitted ahead of a Friday deadline.
The winning firm will build 179 aerial refueling tankers for the US Air Force." News Article: Coalition Makes Progress, Regains Momentum, General Says News Article: Coalition Makes Progress, Regains Momentum, General Says: "Coalition forces are making steady progress in Afghanistan, and the coalition and government are regaining the momentum from the Taliban, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command said today. Video

But Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who commands the corps-sized group, is not sanguine about the progress.

“The situation remains serious, and we still face a tough and resourceful insurgency,” he said in a teleconference with Pentagon reporters. “But the momentum is beginning to shift to the Afghan forces’ advantage.”

The influx of 40,000 more U.S. and coalition troops this year and the new strategy they’re pursuing are making a difference in the country, the general said, but it will take time for concrete gains to emerge. Rodriguez asserted that the Afghan people are gaining confidence and that the country is headed in the right direction.

The Afghan national security forces are doing better and are taking the lead in many areas, Rodriguez said, noting that a recent commanders’ conference in the Afghan capital of Kabul looked at ways that coalition and Afghan commanders can improve plans and communicate better.

Helmand and Kandahar provinces are the main battleground in Afghanistan, and civil-military cooperation is a key factor for winning in these areas, the general said. Afghanistan’s national and provincial governments are working with local leaders to expand the influence and deliver services to the citizens, he said.

“They’re instituting and expanding responsive governing processes and civil capacity where there was none six months ago,” the general told reporters. “The independent director of local governance is bringing together Kandahar’s senior leadership with the provincial council members, district elders, local ministry representatives and representatives from the central government in Kabul. They're building consensus on the way forward to keep improving governance and service delivery.”

Officials across the spectrum are trying to synchronize civil efforts with security efforts, Rodriguez said.

Afghan security forces increasingly are leading security planning, Rodriguez said. Security officials are working to secure polling places for the September elections and are providing security for a Kabul conference also planned for that month.

“About 85 percent of the Afghan National Army are now partnered with coalition forces,” Rodriguez said. “Those partnerships will keep building capacity of the Afghan national security forces and increasingly allow the police and army to take the lead.

“And that is exactly what they want to do,” he continued. “There’s no shortage of courage and commitment across the ranks of the good leaders in the Afghan national security forces.”" News Article: Rodriguez Describes Changes to Operations in Afghanistan News Article: Rodriguez Describes Changes to Operations in Afghanistan: "The commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan has made changes to improve command and control in the key province of Helmand.

Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez also spoke about the civil-military cooperation and lessons learned from the Marja campaign in Helmand.

A Marine battalion will replace British forces in the strategic town of Sangin along the Helmand River, Rodriguez said during a teleconference with Pentagon reporters today.

“The British are committing their theater reserve for the next several months into the central Helmand River valley to increase the security zones in the central Helmand River valley,” he said. A Georgian battalion -- a new addition to the ISAF coalition -- also is moving into the area, the general added.

“This is done to clean up the command and control [situation],” the general said. When all is done, U.S. Marines will be in the northern and southern parts of the province, the British will be concentrated in central Helmand, and the Georgian battalion will be in the west.

Rodriguez told reporters that there has been progress in and around Marja – an agricultural city that had been occupied by the Taliban for three years. “The critical things down in the districts are the delivery of services from the government and the security provided by the police, supported by the army,” he said.

The population is becoming more involved with their local governments and representative councils, Rodriguez said.

“As security grows and as the confidence of the people grows, it will become more representative of the whole district of Marja,” he said. “They are on an upward trajectory to move to that now, but they do not have a fully representative council yet. But they are participating in the council meetings and the shura meetings. … And we look forward to that continual growing confidence as they improve the security.”

It is a hard fight in the region. The Taliban have launched a murder and intimidation campaign to kill the community leaders. Patience is needed to effect change in the region, Rodriguez said, adding that the command and the Afghan government learned lessons from the fight in Marja that can be applied to the larger campaign in and around Kandahar – Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the spiritual home of the Taliban.

The Afghan government also learned many lessons from the experience, he added.

“Most of them had to do with prior planning, preparation, setting the political context and communicating early with the people,” Rodriguez said. “When we went into Marja, … we had not planned long enough in advance. We had done it kind of in a sequence, versus a parallel effort, so it was a little bit slower to get the government services and the development in there that we wanted.”

He said the experience caused the government to begin the political engagement and the consultations with the people much earlier in Kandahar province.

“The president of Afghanistan has already been down there twice, and is going there again shortly,” he said. “And the involvement of the people and the preparations of the Afghan government to best support the people of Kandahar are way ahead of what they were in central Helmand River valley, because of the lessons learned from all during those operations.”

It remains a hard fight in Afghanistan, the general acknowledged, and allied casualties have risen. June was the deadliest month for coalition troops since the war began.

“The soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines … are incredibly committed to what they’re doing,” Rodriguez said. “They’re incredibly committed to each other, to take care of each other and take care of the mission. And their morale remains high as they go into some of the toughest places and the toughest fights that we’ve been in because of going right at the Taliban support bases. So their morale continues to be high.”"

Military points East for aid with Gulf War illness -

Military points East for aid with Gulf War illness - "At first glance, it seems like the oddest of couplings: The New England School of Acupuncture and the U.S. Department of Defense, working on a project together?
But the collaboration has been great, said the school’s chief researcher, Lisa Conboy, who is heading up a six-month study of acupuncture’s impact on Gulf War illness.

Still, the acupuncture school’s $1.2 million Department of Defense grant marks the first time that the military has earmarked funds to study the still mysterious therapy’s impact on people with Gulf War illness.

The complex diagnosis impacts the lives of about some 100,000 Gulf War veterans, and sufferers say the symptoms can linger for years.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

General says Iraq may need U.N. force | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/07/2010

General says Iraq may need U.N. force | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/07/2010: "The top U.S. military commander in Iraq said Tuesday that U.N. peacekeeping forces may need to replace departing U.S. troops in the nation's oil-rich north if a simmering feud between Arabs and minority Kurds continues through 2011.
A U.N. force might offer both the Iraqi leadership and President Obama a politically palatable alternative to a continued U.S. presence to prevent ethnic tensions from descending into war. Although occasional bombings by Sunni extremists on Shiite targets grab the headlines, many observers believe the Kurdish-Arab dispute is the biggest fault line in Iraq today.
Gen. Ray Odierno brought up the possibility of a U.N. force during an interview with the Associated Press. He observed that there is no immediate end in sight to the years-long dispute between Arabs and Kurds, who have managed an uneasy political dance under American supervision since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
'That's something that has to be worked out,' Odierno said, discussing potential options to defuse hostilities if a pilot program to bring Kurdish troops into the Arab-dominated Iraqi army fails."

Super-High Pressures To Create Super Battery

Super-High Pressures To Create Super Battery: "Using super-high pressures similar to those found deep in the Earth or on a giant planet, Washington State University researchers have created a compact, never-before-seen material capable of storing vast amounts of energy.
'If you think about it, it is the most condensed form of energy storage outside of nuclear energy,' says Choong-Shik Yoo, a WSU chemistry professor and lead author of results published in the journal Nature Chemistry.
The research is basic science, but Yoo says it shows it is possible to store mechanical energy into the chemical energy of a material with such strong chemical bonds. Possible future applications include creating a new class of energetic materials or fuels, an energy storage device, super-oxidizing materials for destroying chemical and biological agents, and high-temperature superconductors."

Ukraine's Antonov partnering on Air Force tanker bid

Ukraine's Antonov partnering on Air Force tanker bid: "Ukrainian plane maker Antonov has signed a deal to partner with American aerospace and defense contractor U.S. Aerospace, Inc. on a bid for the Air Force's KC-X aerial refueling tanker contract, U.S. Aerospace announced Tuesday.
The announcement comes just over three months after a report (soon refuted) that Russian government-owned United Aircraft Corp. would offer the Air Force a tanker version of its Ilyushin Il-96.
Antonov and U.S. Aerospace will propose three tanker models: The AN-124-KC, AN-122-KC and AN-112-KC, according to a news release. Antonov would build the airframes in Ukraine and send them to an American U.S. Aerospace facility for final assembly."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Helo pilots learn to fly at extreme altitudes - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times

Helo pilots learn to fly at extreme altitudes - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times: "In Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains, whose highest peak hits 25,000 feet, the air is thin and helicopter engines lose efficiency. Landings and other maneuvers easily accomplished nearer to sea level become more perilous.
“I think many people by now have seen pictures of some the landings in Afghanistan, literally one wheel of a Black Hawk on the side of a mountain; only the ramp of a CH-47 touching down as it hovers in open space while troops are jumping off,” said Maj. Erick “Zeke” Sweet, the 10th CAB’s officer-in-charge of high altitude training here. “These things are not uncommon, particularly in the area of Afghanistan we’re going to.”
The Army is working to teach its aviators how to fly confidently in Afghanistan, emphasizing power management and wind current navigation. At the High Altitude Mountain Environmental Training here, and at the Colorado National Guard’s High Altitude Army Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., soldiers were getting comfortable in the Rockies, the continental U.S.’ closest cousin to the Hindu Kush."

Counting Al-Qaeda Members Is Not Enough - By Brian Fishman | The AfPak Channel

Counting Al-Qaeda Members Is Not Enough - By Brian Fishman | The AfPak Channel: "David Sanger and Mark Mazzetti report in the New York Times this morning that al-Qaeda has 'fewer than 500 members' in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is almost certainly true, but the numbers alone do not demonstrate that al-Qaeda is in decline. Al-Qaeda has never had more than 'several hundred' formal members according to a 2005 Century Foundation report authored by Richard Clarke and others in position to assess the organization prior to 9/11. (Clarke's numbers certainly exclude al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was much larger.)"

U.S. Army, Iraqi Air Force pilots conduct historic joint mission

U.S. Army, Iraqi Air Force pilots conduct historic joint mission: "The air was clear over Contingency Operating Base Basra June 27, 2010, as the Iraqi commanders of the Basra Air Base and the 70th Squadron prepped their CH 2000 reconnaissance airplane for a first-ever joint mission with U.S. AH-64 Apaches.

The primary mission was air reconnaissance along the border with Iran, part of the regular responsibilities of the 70th Squadron, which is co-located with U.S. forces on COB Basra. As the first-ever joint mission of this type between Iraqi and U.S. forces, the flight also served as familiarization and proof-of-concept for future joint missions."

Monday, July 5, 2010

US, Poland sign modified missile shield deal

US, Poland sign modified missile shield deal: "Poland and the United States on Saturday signed a deal on a future US anti-missile shield in Europe which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said would help ward off threats from Iran.
'This is the first agreement that implements the US European-based Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for ballistic missile defense and enables the stationing of a US land-based SM-3 missile defense interceptor system in the Republic of Poland,' said a joint statement issued by Clinton and Poland's Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.
'This agreement marks an important step in our countries' efforts to protect our NATO allies from the threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction,' it added.
The document amends an accord signed in Washington in August 2008 after President Barack Obama modified the plan for a US anti-nuclear missile shield in Europe sealed by the previous Republican administration of George W Bush."

Acoustic Sensor And Netted Combat System Linked For Enhanced Counter Sniper Capability

Acoustic Sensor And Netted Combat System Linked For Enhanced Counter Sniper Capability: "Raytheon has linked its Boomerang acoustic sensor and network-ready Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System to provide an enhanced counter sniper solution for the warfighter.

"Connecting Boomerang and netted LRAS3 is a plug-and-play operation that results in a powerful counter sniper capability," said Glynn Raymer, vice president, Raytheon Network Centric Systems Combat Systems.

"Combined, these systems facilitate a slew-to-cue capability that places the high-performance LRAS3 'eyes' on the threat, day or night. The sniper then becomes the target with a number of prosecution alternatives available ranging from direct return fire to a digital call for fire via the network."

Friday, July 2, 2010

THAAD nails lowest target, seventh of seven in testing

THAAD nails lowest target, seventh of seven in testing: The Army launched a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile, June 28, from Kauai, Hawaii, which successfully intercepted and destroyed another missile launched just minutes earlier.

This was the seventh successful intercept test of seven such tests for the operationally-configured THAAD system. Additionally, the intercept was at the lowest altitude to date for the THAAD interceptor missile, which has the capability to engage targets both inside and outside the earth's atmosphere.

The test was conducted by the Missile Defense Agency and Soldiers with the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas.

The test involved the intercept of a short-range target inside the earth's atmosphere. The target, representing a short-range ballistic missile threat, was launched from an at-sea mobile launch platform.

The THAAD system acquired and tracked the target, developed a fire-control solution and launched an interceptor missile, which acquired and successfully intercepted and destroyed the target missile.

The test results "continue to prove that THADD will be an effective regional missile defense system," said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency. "Over time, it will be integrated with sea-based interceptors and PATRIOT systems."

Lehner said with the THAAD system, the United States will have "an architecture to cover short- to medium-range threats anywhere in the world."

The THAAD includes a missile, a launcher, radar and command and control systems. The system is an element of the nation's Ballistic Missile Defense System, and is designed to strike down enemy ballistic missiles as the move toward their target. Specifically, the portable THAAD system targets enemy ballistic missiles in their "terminal phase," as the are approaching their targets.

"What it does is give the Army the ability to field a mobile missile defense system," Lehner said. The system is most effective against short- to medium-range enemy ballistic missiles, which Lehner says are the most likely to be encountered now in theater.

The THAAD system is still in development, but Lehner said by next year it is expected the first operational units can be delivered.